The Olympics were never a big deal to Ashleigh Johnson. Anyone who saw her in the pool as a girl – rangy, quick, powerful – knew she had potential as a water polo goalie. They saw glimpses of special talent.
But after a few brief stints with the U.S. junior team, Johnson wanted nothing more to do with the national program.
“It was really boring for me,” she says. “I just wanted to have fun.”
So it seems improbable that five years later Johnson is headed to the 2016 Summer Games as an anchor for the American team and one of the top goalies in the world.
For most athletes, the trip to...